University of Chester

Programme Specification
Garden and Landscape Design FDA
2017 - 2018

Foundation Arts Degree

Garden and Landscape Design

Garden and Landscape Design

University of Chester

Reaseheath College

Reaseheath College

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory, Work-Based inc.(practice / placement)

2 years (full time) ; 4 years (Part time)

5 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences Biological Sciences

The QAA Landscape Architecture subject benchmark statement for bachelor's degrees with honours and master's degrees in Landscape Architecture (July 2016, 3rd edition) has been used to inform the academic development of the programme.


Department of Biological Sciences

Wednesday 30th November 2016

FdA Garden and Landscape Design aims to:

  • Provide an educational foundation for a range of creative, technical and management careers in Garden and Landscape Design;
  • Provide studies directly relevant to specialist areas of Garden Design in which students intend to seek employment;
  • Enable students to make an immediate contribution in employment;
  • To provide the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment and progression to other qualifications;
  • Provide flexibility, knowledge, skills and motivation as a basis for future studies and career development;
  • Develop students’ ability in design through effective use and combination of the academic knowledge and practical skills gained in different parts of the programme;
  • Develop a range of skills and techniques, personal qualities and attitudes essential for successful performance in professional working life.

Students graduating from the programme should have the following attributes, skills and abilities.

FHEQ Level 4

  • Demonstrate a systematic & rigorous approach to academic study (all modules)
  • Employ both divergent and convergent thinking processes in investigation and enquiry in response to design problems. (RC4906, RC4909, RC4910)
  • Demonstrate the ability to generate ideas, concepts, proposals and arguments independently and or collaboratively. (RC4906, RC4909, RC4910)
  • Interpret the critical and contextual dimensions of Garden and Landscape Design through research, design proposals and written work whilst encompassing the business, cultural, economic, environment, ethical, global, historical, political, societal, and/or theoretical context. (RC49002, RC4904, RC4908)
  • Effectively demonstrate through research and design proposals and written work, the designer’s relationship with audiences, clients, markets, users, consumers and/or participants. (RC4907, RC4910. RC4909)
  • Describe and independently use relevant techniques for the collecting and analysing a range of data ( RC4909, RC4208)


FHEQ Level 5

  • Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge and critical understanding of relevant theories and concepts in the fields of garden and landscape design (all modules)
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the main methods of enquiry in garden and landscape design (all modules)
  • Demonstrate an ability to apply knowledge of underlying concepts and principles outside the context in which they where originally studied, including in an employment and professional context (RC5915, RC5906, RC5905)
  • Respond creatively to a range of client lead briefs demonstrating competence and refinement of a range of design skills. (RC5908, RC5909, RC5910)
  • Professionally articulate ideas and information comprehensibly in visual, oral and written forms within the context of garden and landscape design practice. (RC5905, RC5906, RC5908, RC5909, RC5910, RC5911, RC5915)

FHEQ Level 4

  • Be able to evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems related to the study of garden and landscape design and their work role. (RC4906, RC4910, RC4909)
  • Be able to communicate the results of their study/work accurately and reliably, and with structured and coherent arguments. (RC4907, RC4208, RC4910, RC4908)
  • Demonstrate an ability to present, evaluate and interpret their own and others work, to develop lines of argument and make sound judgements in accordance with basic theories and concepts of garden and landscape design. (RC4906, RC4902, RC4904)

 FHEQ Level 5

  • Effectively communicate information, arguments, and analysis, in a variety of forms, to specialist and non-specialist audiences, and deploy key techniques of the discipline effectively. (RC5905, RC5906, RC5908, RC5911)
  • Ability to apply underlying concepts and principles outside the context in which they were first studied, including, where appropriate, the application of those principles in an employment context. (RC5909, RC5907, RC5910, RC5915, RC5911)
  • Effectively employ both convergent and divergent thinking in the process of investigation, speculative enquiry, visualisation and design development . (RC5910, RC5908)

Practical and professional skills are embedded throughout the programme.

FHEQ Level 4

  • The ability to communicate effectively using both written, verbal and e-skills. (RC4208, RC4910RC4904, RC4902)
  • The ability to research, assimilate and articulate findings (RC4902, RC4906, RC4904, RC4908, RC4909, RC4910)
  • The ability to research, source, select, manage and evaluate information (all modules)

FHEQ Level 5

  • The ability to research, experiment and refine design techniques and proposals. (RC5909, RC5910, RC5908)
  • The ability to work effectively and professionally within a team in response to a design project. (RC5906)
  • Develop qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and decision-making. (RC5906, RC5915)

Professionalism is central to the educational aims of this programme. Although the programme itself is not directly linked to graduate memberships of professional bodies, the programme reflects professional knowledge and values aligned to Landscape Architecture and outlined in the Landscape Institute elements of practice.

Level 4

  • Communicate research findings accurately through written work, verbal presentation and practical outcomes. Present structured and coherent argument for solutions to design problems [all Level 4 modules].

Level 5

  • Effectively communicate information, arguments and analysis to a range of audiences (all modules)

The programme is designed to facilitate the development of academic knowledge and understanding of fundamental principles of garden and landscape design, with a particular emphasis on the development of transferable, professional skills and their application in a work-based environment. The approach to the programme takes the view that garden and landscape design is fundamentally a creative problem solving activity, underpinned by in-depth research, critical analysis and reflection upon the needs of others and the demands of the brief. 

The curriculum has two distinct levels of study consisting of core modules in fundamental principles garden and landscape design. Within the programme students are expected to undertake 120 credits of study each year. All modules have a value of 15 credits. Modules are assessed on a 3000 word-equivalent basis using a variety of assessment strategies such as presentations, discussion groups, reports, portfolios and examinations.

The mode of study is full-time or part-time, with attendance.    

 Throughout students are supported and encouraged to take responsibility for the direction of their work and maintain a professional approach in order to achieve their personal goals. Each student is seen as an individual, with strengths and weaknesses, each with different requirements from the course. The programme aims to help them realise the full potential of their talents and become confident designers, through a challenging and enjoyable programme.

On successful completion of the FdA Garden and Landscape Design, students are eligible to progress to Level 6 of the BSc (Hons) Landscape Architecture programme.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
RC4208 4 Academic Skills Development 15 Comp
RC4902 4 Principles of Botany 15 Comp
RC4904 4 Plant Biogeography 15 Comp
RC4906 4 Design Project 15 Comp
RC4907 4 Visual and Design Communication 15 Comp
RC4908 4 Design History and Context 15 Comp
RC4909 4 Site Assessment 15 Comp
RC4910 4 Design Principles, Ideas and Concepts 15 Comp
RC5905 5 Conservation Management 15 Comp
RC5906 5 Project Management 15 Comp
RC5907 5 Landscape Materials 15 Comp
RC5908 5 Historic Garden Restoration 15 Comp
RC5909 5 Planting Design and Specification 15 Comp
RC5910 5 Contemporary Design Project 15 Comp
RC5911 5 Specialist Project 15 Comp
RC5915 5 Work Based Learning for Academic Credit 15 Comp

Level four of the programme corresponds to Framework of Higher Education Qualification (FHEQ) Certificate level, successful completion of which would entitle a student to an exit award of a Certificate of Higher Education (120 Credits).

Level five of the programme corresponds to FHEQ Intermediate Level 5, successful completion of which would entitle a student to an award of Foundation Degree (240 Credits).



A minimum of 64 UCAS points

Candidates should possess proficiency in English and mathematics equivalent to passes in GCSE (A-C grades), in addition to the equivalent of either (a) a minimum of three passes (grade C or above) in other GCSE subjects or (b) an Intermediate level Specialised Diploma, as well as one of the following:

  • One GCE A2-level.
  •  One Vocational A level.
  •  GSCE Vocational Double Award (grade EE or above).
  •  Advanced level Specialised Diploma, which should normally include the Extended Project.
  •  A pass grade in an appropriate National Diploma.
  •  Passes (grade C or above) in at least five separate subjects of the Scottish Certificate of Education, of which at least two must be at Higher grade.
  •  An Irish Leaving Certificate with at least two grades C or above at the Higher level.

    Applicants from non-native English speaking countries are expected to meet the following English Language requirements:

    IELTS Academic for UKVI:

Students who do not meet the above admissions requirements will be considered for entry if they can demonstrate that they have relevant vocational experience, motivation and personal qualities appropriate for Foundation Degree level work.

The QAA Landscape Architecture subject benchmark statement (July 2016, 3rd edition) has been used to inform the academic development of the programme and the design of programme content and outcomes.
Whilst the programme content reflects the broad spectrum of the discipline of landscape architecture through embedding within the programme the range of intellectual, practical, analytical , communication , digital literacy, professional and interpersonal skills (Section 5), there is a specific emphasis on the development of skills and knowledge associated with landscape design through the development of skills and knowledge in design theory and practice and the use of design projects within a number of modules. Approaches to teaching and learning and assessment reflect benchmark standards through the diversity of delivery approaches as well as the use of a studio-based, collective learning culture (Section 4.1). 

The more generic "soft" skills identified in the benchmark statements, including interpersonal and teamwork, communication, self management and professional development and digital literacy skills are all explicitly embedded in the majority of modules presented within the programme, either assessed formatively through classroom based activities, or alternatively through components of assessment.


Students will encounter a broad range of teaching and learning experiences across all levels of study as befits the subject matter. Methods of teaching and learning are indicated clearly in each module descriptor and the list below describes the variety of approaches used by tutors.

A key feature of delivery will be design studio teaching and project work to replicate the professional work atmosphere of a landscape practice and instil relevant collaborative and team-working skills. Where possible projects will be run in multi-disciplinary team, again to reflect professional practice.


Teaching and learning methods used to deliver this curriculum are designed to provide experience, and, through reflection upon it, develop concepts which can then be explored through testing and experimentation. The methods used, in practice, vary according to the nature of each module’s subject matter but include a wide diversity from more formal lectures to student centred activities including assignments, seminars, case studies and design studio teaching.  All students also carry out a major individual research, work based problem or design project in the final year.  All students experience learning through a Virtual Learning Environment, in order to prepare them for the autonomy expected of HE students and for Continuing Professional Development studies, post-graduation.  The curriculum is delivered in such a way that there is a reducing reliance on tutor-directed study as students progress through their programme. Teaching strategies are employed that encourage active learning and the use of integrated case studies as well as practical project experience.

A combination of learning and  teaching methods are employed:

Study skills sessions - to develop academic writing and research skills;

Lectures - Formal interactive lectures which will be used to introduce topics and/or specific bodies of knowledge to students;

Teaching workshops - Supervised practical and workshop sessions (individual and group) and demonstrations (for example, visual and design communication; digital technologies, CAD);

Tutorials - Individual and group tutorials to evaluate students progress and give formative feedback;

Seminars - Student led presentations, seminars, group discussion, which enable the sharing of individual experience an response to set tasks and peer evaluations;

Self directed learning -  and independent study, particularly using on-line materials, guided reading and resource based learning;

Work focused activity - Work based activities including work placement, using industry set "live" or competition briefs and including projects set by guest lecturers or visiting professionals;

Written work - Students will be required to produce a range of written work, including essays, reports, reviews and module evaluation;

Team work - Certain assignments will require students to work in teams to demonstrate their ability to work as part of a team. 

Assessment Criteria 

The University's over-arching level-related criteria are a key reference when designing modular assessments. Therefore, progression towards more complex and involved assessments, that require greater levels of study autonomy and greater levels of critical analysis, underpins the overall assessment strategy of the programme.   

In addition, all students who pass any part of a degree are expected to possess such basic skills as the ability to make use of numerical and statistical information; the ability to locate internet sites from given web addresses; the ability to send and receive e-mail messages; the ability to use basic software packages such as Word; the ability to perform basic searches on standard electronic retrieval systems, and the ability to write legibly. Students who succeed at Level 4 and above should be able to construct an essay using correct grammar, spelling and referencing according to the American Psychological Association (APA) system of referencing.

In the preparation of coursework, which can include essays, laboratory/field exercises and presentation, portfolios students are given time and scope to present their work in a variety of modes, particularly where an examination would be inappropriate.  However, the institutions are aware that examinations have an important role to play in summative assessment, and give academic credibility to the degree programme. 

The programme uses a wide range of forms of assessment including:

  • Essays and written assignments - testing the ability to write within word limits, convey ideas with clarity and accuracy, reference to an academic standard and the ability to conduct private study and research.
  • Oral presentations - testing presentation skills, the ability to discuss issues with clarity and respond to questions.
  • Dissertation - testing the ability to conduct individual primary research and communicate ideas and information effectively in an academic manner and within word limits.
  • Portfolio - testing the ability to acquire key research and evaluation skills and to present material in a clear, effective manner
  • Short-based seminar exercises
  • Reading of academic texts and discussion exercises
  • Close analysis of texts
  • Literature reviews
  • Critical Reviews
  • Online multiple-choice and short answer exams

Formative assessment and feedback

All students receive written comments on assessed components of work and additional feedback on the work is given more informally by individual tutors during group workshops and one-to-one tutorials. Additionally, some tutors have adopted the use of GradeMark software by which to provide more timely feedback to students.  Formative feedback is an important and essential component of all taught modules. The nature of the assessment and feedback varies from module to module but typically takes the form of a written assignment done under time constraints, marked by the module tutor. Formative feedback is staggered throughout the year. The programme also makes use of on-line formative feedback in the form of electronic marking and self-evaluation forms

Reassessment Methods   

Reassessment will address the learning outcomes not achieved in the failed components. For modules forming part of programmes in the Department of Biological Sciences, reassessment will normally take the form of the resubmission of all failed component(s) of the modular assessment strategy. Here students will be expected to resubmit the coursework or re-sit the exam in its original format, albeit using a different perspective or suite of questions.

The FdA Garden and Landscape Design course aims to develop a comprehensive range of skills and knowledge to equip students for a career in landscape or garden design. Business and professional practice modules ensure students develop key abilities to enable them to set up and run their own garden design business. Additionally the course provides underpinning theoretical and vocational skills and knowledge to support and promote a career in landscape design with the potential for progression to chartered landscape architect status following further level 6 and level 7 study. The development of employability skills is supported through a credit-based work placement.

The qualification fulfils a recognised skills gap within the horticultural industry by providing vocationally and professionally relevant training in garden design and heritage landscape management. Garden design is a growing profession with a number of established professional bodies including the Society of Garden Designers, British Association of Landscape Industries and Association of Professional Landscapers. All of these professional bodies identify an increasing demand for professionalisation within the industry. The sector typically consists of sole trader businesses but the establishment of small professional practices in recent years reflect a continued demand for design services. Additionally there is an increasing opportunity for individuals to work within the heritage horticulture sector supported by policy developments which require the identification and conservation of historic landscapes as a cultural resource. There are a range of employment opportunities in heritage horticulture including historic garden restoration, historic garden management and horticultural education and interpretation officers in a diverse range of settings including local authorities, private gardens, National trust properties, and charitable trusts.

The programme combines scientific, creative, managerial and theoretical aspects of garden design and heritage garden conservation, encouraging students to apply their skills and knowledge through real projects to develop relevant vocational and professional skills. There are opportunities to engage in design projects and heritage restoration schemes through established links with notable organisations and properties within the locality including Royal Horticultural Society, National Trust and private historic gardens as well as local authority parks and open space and Garden Trusts. Design, creative and managerial skills are developed throughout the course and students are able to further develop specialist skills through a work placement period. Additionally students undertake practical horticultural skills development as part of their programme as well as participating in consultancy workshops.

Students wishing to further develop their careers in Landscape Management and Landscape Architecture are able to progress to the third year of the BSc (Hons) Landscape Architecture programme on successful completion of the FdA in Garden and Landscape Design.

Both Reaseheath College and the University of Chester are committed to the active promotion of equality of opportunity.  Both institutions seeks to ensure that no student is disadvantaged or discriminated against on the grounds of: gender; age; marital or parental status; sexual orientation; racial group (race, colour, nationality, ethnicity or national origins); creed (religious, political or personal beliefs or principles); membership or non-membership of a trade union; and socio-economic background. It also aims to ensure that disabled people and those with special needs do not suffer unfair discrimination, and that they are enabled to achieve their full potential as students.  The ultimate objective of the programmes delivery is to ensure all aspects of delivery are open to all sections of society and in whose activities all students can participate to the best of their ability. This programme is designed to ensure inclusivity and the diverse needs of our students are provided for.  At a departmental level all programmes are developed and delivered with the following aspects in mind:

Admission requirements are clearly set out in promotional materials and due consideration is given to a policy of widening access, participation, diversity and equality. 

Each module and programme is developed in line with University policy to both promote equality and diversity and encourage all students in the development of their learning.

There is flexibility in materials and delivery of teaching to support students with disability or from culturally diverse backgrounds and the Department works closely with Learning Support in delivering this support through Learning Support Plans.

The induction week activities are designed to integrate all students both academically and socially and to make academic staff aware of any issues.  Students are made aware of avenues of support if they a have any issues regarding diversity and equality.

Supportive formative exercises are presented in modules in the first year to give all students an equal chance of succeeding.

Assessments are designed to afford equal opportunity to all students to display their knowledge and skills. The introduction of anonymous marking also enhances equal opportunity, fairness and independence to all students.

In order to ensure that the needs of all students are met any barriers to access (physical, environmental and curriculum) are identified and removed or reasonable adjustments will be made based on requirements.

All learning materials and teaching and learning sessions are designed to be free from racist, sexist and other discriminatory assumptions and practices.

All lecturers are aware of diversity issues and discharge their roles with knowledge and sympathy and all students are made aware of both institutional Department structures to discuss issues should a concern arise. 

Reaseheath College offers specific support for students with specified learning needs, encompassing all physical abilities, in conjunction with the Higher Education Support Team (HEST) on campus.  In collaboration with student support services, and safeguarding task groups, the college's equality and diversity policy aims to ensure that all students and all members of staff at the College have equality of opportunity and are treated solely on the basis of their aptitude, ability and potential to pursue a course of study or to fulfil the requirements of a job. The policy also aims to eliminate discrimination, which is unlawful or unfair.

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